Imagine this. You’ve been at Amazon for two years. You got past the bump of learning the culture and internal tooling, are finally productive and begin to pursue a promotion to Senior Engineer. Life is good. You are responsible for the engineering and operational excellence of a service that is critical path of amazon.com. Yet today, the busiest, most important shopping day of the year, your service is down, causing millions of dollars of loss. Every minute counts, and it’s on you. This is the event that will change your life.

For me, that day was a turning point in…


Sudden rush of adrenaline as the airplane made its descent towards Seatac: imposing skyscrapers downtown, beautiful deep blue waters everywhere, mountains as far as the eye could see. One-way ticket West, about to start a new life. I was born in a small town in a third-world country. I lost my dad when I was 13, and my family struggled. I came to America at the age of 15 with a suitcase, a hundred bucks and a dream, without speaking a word of English. I was 21, and this new life was, very much, the American Dream.

If there’s one…


Today, the single most influential person in my professional life retires, after having built a trillion dollar empire from a garage, revolutionizing the world. One of the turning points in my 11 years at Amazon was the day I got to go backstage with Jeff. For a brief 5 minutes, I had the full attention of one of the most powerful men in the world. He was down to earth and genuinely interested in me. It inspired me to Work Hard, Have Fun and Make History.

Jeff and I backstage circa 2013

I was a Principal Engineer at Amazon, and worked there for over 11 years…


I’ve focused most of my 24-yr career on engineering productivity tooling, that is, tools to help software developers be more efficient and reduce toil. In particular, I spend a lot of my time obsessively thinking about how to simplify software testing. This is an insight of how that works in large software companies (50,000–100,000 software engineers), given my experiences at Microsoft, Amazon and Google.

Tools make your job easier!

I worked at Microsoft for 11 years, at Amazon for 11 years, and now I’m working at Google. When you work in a large software company like that, if every single developer does something that is…


Today, I am honored to have a level that only a small percentage of Google engineers reach. I’ve had a few successes that helped me get there. But I’ve also had some pretty spectacular and embarrassing failures in my career, and I’ve had a few rough patches where I was lost. This is a story about pursuing an opportunity that you are not passionate about, for the sake of the perceived value of it to your career. This is a story about biting off more than you can chew. This is my story of how I almost got fired.

I…


It was about 5am, five hours from the BillG meeting. My eyes were red and puffy and I was slightly delirious. I had been up for almost twenty-four hours. But I had just recompiled the code, and it seemed to work now. I could get two or three hours of sleep under my desk, and that gave me plenty of time to get the demo to our Program Manager before our dreaded meeting with Bill Gates that morning that was going to decide whether the project continued or not.

Bill Gates circa 2001. He didn’t always smile during internal demos!

Back in 2001, I worked at Microsoft’s Natural Languages Group (NLG)…


In my two decades in the software industry, I filed about 45 patents; some with Microsoft, some with Amazon and some with Google. I have been consistently prolific when it comes to intellectual property, yet my two favorite patents are my very first two. What makes me like them so much is that today, in 2021, they are so obvious that you may be puzzled as to how they could possibly have been accepted by the US Patents Office? But, two decades ago, these weren’t so obvious and clear cut.

Microsoft gave you a patent cube when your patent was filed


A lot of what I do as a Senior Staff Engineer at Google today, and a lot of what I did as a Principal Engineer at Amazon for many years before, was essentially getting people to do things. It’s human problems, not technical problems, the ones you have to work hardest on, and the ones that have the most impact. It was critical for me to develop tools to influence effectively, because I chose a non-managerial leadership path, where I lead without authority.

Earlier in my career, I exclusively read technical books. These days, I split my reading time between…


I was a Software Engineer at Microsoft for 11 years, between 1998 and 2009. Being at Microsoft in the nineties was a unique experience, and I knew I was part of something special.

21-yr old, fresh out of college, and first job at Microsoft!

Over the decade-plus I spent at Microsoft, life there opened my horizons in so many ways. I was born and raised in a small town in rural Argentina, and went to high school and college in a small town in the Midwest. …


I’m a Senior Staff Engineer at Google, and I’ve been writing code since I was 11 years old. The story of how I got my first computer is somewhat convoluted and unexpected. An odd chain of events got me hooked on something that would become a life-long love and career. And this happened when I was in 6th grade… against all odds, in 1987, in a dusty colonial town in rural Argentina.

Now, some background story (I told you the story is convoluted… bear with me). When I was a little, I was fascinated by a great-uncle of mine, Ricardo…

Carlos Arguelles

Hi! I'm a Senior Staff Engineer at Google. Prior to Google, I spent 11+ years at Amazon. And prior to Amazon, I spent 11+ years at Microsoft.

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